Loughborough University
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Connoisseurship as a substitute for user research? The case of the Swiss watch industry

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journal contribution
posted on 2015-12-02, 14:02 authored by Matt Sinclair
Conventional wisdom holds that new product development is more successfully undertaken when design is user led. An exception is the luxury goods sector, in which a common presentation of the brand is one where the customer should aspire to the vision of its designers. In such cases, the proprietor is often cast as a connoisseur, an expert in the brand's history who is intuitively able to give vision and direction. Within the Swiss luxury watch industry, heritage and the illusion of exclusivity are vital strategies in the communication of products as luxury items. Connoisseurship plays a central role in this communication, establishing the boundaries of brands whose products might otherwise appear similar. In such cases, connoisseurship is presented to the customer as superior to user research, engendering products with a sophistication which customer insights cannot provide. Nonetheless, whilst conventional user research methods play little part in the design of Swiss watches, less formal methods are employed. These are shown to also have application in non-luxury sectors. The utilisation of strategies employed by the Swiss watch industry in future scenarios of new product development is also discussed.



  • Design

Published in

Journal of Research Practice


SINCLAIR, M., 2015. Connoisseurship as a substitute for user research? The case of the Swiss watch industry. Journal of Research Practice, 11(2), M11.


Athabasca University Press / © Journal of Research Practice (ISSN 1712 851X) and the authors


  • AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Research Practice and the definitive published version is available at http://jrp.icaap.org/index.php/jrp/article/view/515/420




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